Hellam, Fulfs, Tansey, McDowell, Planer, Pust, Woodhull Families in Germany, Ireland, Canada, USA


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An emotional storm of enthusiasm and discontent created the waves that rose out of Europe and rolled west onto the shores of North America. My family rode those waves, some becoming orphans of that storm.

George Berkeley, who influenced American education in the 1730's, proclaimed that "Westward the course of empire takes its way." Most of my family traveled after Berkeley's visit to America and certainly did not regard themselves as part of the growth of empire, but West they went out of Germany and Ireland.

They rolled on from eastern Canada and America to Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, like Huckleberry Finn who felt he had "to light out for the territory ahead of the rest".

Then, on a final tidal swell, some rode onto the western shores of the continent, landing in California and Oregon. Stopping at the edge of the icy Pacific surf, they found home.

John Steinbeck wrote of proud men who "transformed the world with their knowledge" (The Grapes of Wrath).

My family were people who saw these changes. From New Jersey, the Tanseys, McDowells, Dennehys, and Woodhulls saw the Statue of Liberty (1886) and Brooklyn Bridge (1883) rise in New York harbor, as the Planers and Pusts later watched the Golden Gate Bridge (1937) built across San Francisco Bay.

By 1855, when the first railroad crossed the Mississippi River between Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, the Fulfs had carved farms out of thick Illinois soil and they watched as the trains drove through to the west to join the transcontinental link in 1869.

One Hellam rode that link to the end of the line in California where he found the home he craved. Others followed him.

These pages contain some of my family's names and some of their stories. Some of the stories are happy; some are not. Happily, enough survived the long, rough, historic ride westward to their new homes that I am here today to create these pages. I live in California. The year is 2000.

All contents of this database copyright © 2000 Marcia Hellam. All rights Reserved. Publication on the Internet does not constitute a release of material herein for use outside this database without the written consent of the author.


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